Author Topic: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen  (Read 1093 times)

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Offline brandm24

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #30 on: April 21, 2020, 11:59:30 AM »
With the enhanced picture it does look more like an "A" With the left-tilting right leg of the letter it couldn't be anything else.

Bruce
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Offline mrbadexample

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #31 on: April 22, 2020, 01:17:49 AM »
I've edited the image a little.

Thanks Mal.  :)

I can just about pick out the A with a loupe (although it's not easy) but getting a decent picture is nigh impossible with the kit I've got.

Offline brandm24

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #32 on: May 10, 2020, 08:19:04 PM »
Phillip Apple / Philadelphia Coppersmith

Counterstamped coins by this issuer are extremely rare and one I always wanted for my collection. Fortunately, this example...the plate coin for both the Greg Brunk and Russ Rulau token references...was offered in a Steve Hayden Mail Bid sale in August, 2015. I was lucky to win it despite intense interest from other collectors.

Hayden noted in his listing that it was previously owned by at least four prominent American numistmasts, F.C.C. Boyd, John J. Ford, Q. David Bowers and Amon Carter Jr. 



There are only three examples of this issuer's stamps extant.  Two of this style with displayed eagle include the example on the 1818 Large Cent and a second struck on a “copper disc.” More likely the disc is a heavily worn copper coin. The third is struck on an 1810 large cent and is made up of two separate bar stamps captioned “P. Apple” and “Phila.”.



Previous auction results for both varieties are listed at the end of this report.

While the few existing examples are well documented, the issuer not so much. Despite cataloger Russell Rulau's description of Phillip Apple as “one of America's best-known early coppersmiths” my own research couldn't confirm much of the scant history offered. However, some new material surfaced and is detailed in this report. Still, Apple apparently left a very small footprint and remains mostly a forgotten craftsman.

The dates generally offered for his participation in the Philadelphia copper trade were 1806 through 1839. He actually first appeared in city directories in 1805 listed as Phillip Apple & Co. Whether the “& Co.” indicates that he had a partner or not is unclear.  However, the 1839 date is accurate as it was the last time he appeared in city enumerations. The one year discrepancy in the date of his company's founding is of little importance but for the sake of accuracy.

After 1806 he was described as a coppersmith,  coppersmith / brazier or a copper and tin worker. Various addresses for his business were 112, 201, and 213 N. 2nd St., 130, 157, 185, and 216 N. 3rd St. and 116 High. (now Market St.). Although it was common for early 19th century merchants to move frequently, the number of times Apple relocated is unusual.

Conventional wisdom also states that Apple maintained a second shop in West Chester, Pa., at least in 1826. That assertion raised some skepticism for West Chester is nearly 40 miles from Philadelphia and would have made “commuting” a daunting task in those early times. Unfortunately, Philadelphia didn't publish a directory in 1826 so it was impossible to confirm his residency in Philadelphia that year. However, he was listed in subsequent years, at least through 1839.

 Because of this skepticism, a search was conducted for Apple's possible residence in West Chester or Chester County. The first bit of information was uncovered in the 1838 Chester County tax records. Though no record was found of Phillip, there was a William Apple listed. He owned what was described as a “lot” in the town but provided no further details.

 The name William Apple had surfaced earlier while searching Philadelphia census records. In 1821 he was a coppersmith working at 201 N. 2nd St., nearly next door to Phillip's shop at 130 N. 3rd. Interestingly, in 1822, he operated a dry goods store at the same address. William didn't appear in another directory until 1825 where he was described as a coppersmith once more, but now located at 178 N. 2nd. He disappeared from city census records after that.

Moving onto the US Federal Census listings starting in 1830, William did appear as a resident of West Chester. Unfortunately, early federal census rolls before 1850 provided only very basic information. They were essentially used as a method for counting residents and recording the number of people living in each household. These statistics were broken down into gender and age groups in both the female and male categories. Only the name of the head-of-household was revealed but nothing on occupation, age, marital status, or other personal data. That changed in 1850 when the enumerators questioned respondents more thoroughly.

The 1840 federal census also showed William at the same location but, surprisingly, included a notation that he was a coppersmith. That proved definitively that it was the same man who disappeared from Philadelphia records nearly fifteen years earlier.

William continued appearing in federal enumerations through 1870 and was always described as a coppersmith or tin worker. Apparently, he became quite wealthy as he had a maid residing in his home with him, his wife Mary, and a number of apprentices of both the copper and tin trades. More than likely they all worked for him. The value of his property was listed as $134,000 and personal wealth at $40,000, hefty numbers for the day. William passed away in May, 1872 at the age of 75 and was interred in Oaklands Cemetery.

Cemetery records yielded further information about William and his family. He was born on 17 December, 1796 to a Philadelphia cooper (cask and barrel maker) named Valentine Apple, another name that had surfaced during early city records searches. His mother's name was Elizabeth as was the name of his younger sister. Other sources suggest that he had sons, but their names or occupations weren't revealed. Apparently, William had an association with what was probably a local militia, these militias being common for the day.  He was often referred to as Captain William Apple but no details of his service were forthcoming.

Why spend so much time investigating William Apple? It was important to establish if he were the proprietor of the alleged “second” coppersmith shop in West Chester and not Phillip. It became obvious to me that he was when I found no historical references of any other Apple family member living there during the relevant time period.

Although no family connection between Philip and William was found, it's almost certain that they were related. Circumstantial evidence indicates that Phillip and Valentine were brothers which would make William his nephew. Related or not, it's clear that Philip Apple never had a second shop in West Chester as opined by earlier researchers.

While doing a federal records search for William, Phillip Apple surprisingly reappeared. Having thought that he passed away in 1839 or 1840 the truth of it said otherwise. The assumption that he had died was bolstered by the fact that he wasn't found in the 1840 federal enumerations despite an intense examination.
 

Though nothing at all was discovered about Phillip's life between 1840 and 1849, he resurfaced as a resident of Moultrie, Illinois in the 1850 federal census. He lived alone and worked as a coppersmith.

Earlier Philadelphia marriage records had revealed that he married a German immigrant named Elizabeth (or Elisabeth) Shively on April 19, 1804 at the Philadelphia Monthly Meeting and had at least five children with her. What became of her is unknown but she likely passed away about 1840 which may have prompted him to leave Philadelphia. However, Elizabeth never appeared in Philadelphia death records.

By 1860, Phillip, by then about 80 or 81 years old, still resided in Moultrie, but now in the household of a farmer named James Higland and his family. James' wife was named Eliza who was born in Pennsylvania the same year as his daughter Elizabeth. This was certainly the same person and would likely be the reason for his removal to Illinois. Nothing else was found regarding Philip Apple after the 1860 census record.

Additional Information

The same source that promoted the second shop theory also noted “Apple's signature appears on copper teakettles, copper mugs and other handmade products.” Despite an intense internet search no examples were ever found.

Two other minor details of Phillip's life revealed themselves in the later stages of this investigation. Very early United States Marine Corps muster rolls noted his enlistment in the service on January 11, 1822. Though of little detail, it noted his posting to Philadelphia, possibly at the naval shipyard there. A comment added to the record stated “Disabled on ….” but the rest was unreadable. It appears that he was discharged as physically unfit to serve.

The final bit of information came from official U.S. Patent Office records. He was awarded a patent for a “funnel for fluids” on July 13, 1808. Early patent records offer minimal details, as they had to be reconstructed after fire destroyed the originals in the 1840's. Nearly all note only the patent holder's name, a brief description of  his invention and the date. These reconstructed records are known as X-patents. Unfortunately, Apple's patent award falls into that category.

Past Offerings

Stephen K. Nagy, a Philadelphia coin dealer, offered the 1818 example in his fixed price list of 1948 / 1949. It was listed for $15 as Lot # 1168.

Stack's, Bowers (Coin Galleries) as Lot # 3187 in the November 15, 1989 sale of “Ancient and Modern Coins of the World and the United States”. Again, this was the 1818 specimen, at the time owned by Amon Carter Jr. It realized $462.

Presidential Coin & Antique Co. Sale # 76 “The Sarah Hinckley Collection of Hard Times Tokens” (November 11, 2006) Lot # 170. Also the 1818 example. It fetched $275.

The aforementioned Steve Hayden Mail Bid Sale of August 2, 2015. It sold for $775. This is also the 1818 specimen.

Paul J. Bosco Auctions / New York, NY. (April 1989) This was an auction for the “smooth disc” variety. No further details were available.

Presidential Coin & Antique Co. (Sale # 47) Lot # 114 (December 2, 1989). “George Hattie Collection of Civil War Die Types”
The offering was for the unique 1810 bar stamps strike. It's unclear if Hattie owned the coin or if it were consigned by another collector. It was sold for $825.

Presidential Coin & Antique Co. (Sale # 59) Lot # 135 (December 9, 1995) “Emerson Arends Collection of Gold Medals.” This offering of the 1810 bar stamps specimen fetched $400.

                                                                     B.R.& M.
                                                                     May, 2020
Bruce
« Last Edit: May 12, 2020, 02:10:22 PM by Figleaf »
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Offline brandm24

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #33 on: May 12, 2020, 01:07:42 PM »
I was always interested in studying die progression or die deterioration in an effort to identify earlier or later strikes and other interesting things that might come from them. This mostly applies to struck coins or tokens, but my interest lies mostly with counterstamps. Unfortunately, a large majority of these issues are either unique or populated only by a few examples.

The Phillip Apple stamp posted above is extremely interesting. I never noticed the extreme deterioration evident on the punch until about a year ago, although I've owned the coin for about five years. While no "study" can be done for lack of examples to compare, it did raise a question about the age of this eagle stamp as opposed to the bar stamps issue from the same maker. Although the bar stamps are only known on one coin, my thought was that maybe Apple, realizing that his big punch was near failure, cut the two smaller ones to replace it with.

While both are very old, I think the eagle stamp came first and probably survived only a short time. The bar stamps on the 1810 large cent may have been a test piece and the reason for it's uniqueness. It's just a shame I could never find images of Apple's signature on any of his work.

As you can see by the scope images, the damage on the eagle stamp is extreme and was likely close to failure.

The underside of the eagle's left wing and most of the right wing are missing or are so corroded as to only a raise a faint image when struck. Heavy die cracks are evident above and below "P. Apple" and below "PHILa"  The entire punch has numerous areas of deterioration. The stop after "P" is grotesquely large and looks more like a cud than a period. I believe some of the lack of detail can be attributed to poor die cutting, but believe the majority is caused by die failure. What ever the cause, it makes for an interesting study.

As added interest,the scope image also reveals some of the host coin's badly worn design. A partial of the word "Liberty" on the headband shows as "(LI)BER(TY) and is shown under the crook of the eagle's right wing. Three digits of the date "18(1)8" can be seen faintly to the left of the eagle's wing.

Bruce
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #34 on: May 12, 2020, 02:26:14 PM »
I think the P. APPLE, the eagle and PHILa formed one punch in view of the seamless contour. Yet, the three parts were engraved separately: the whole is neither round nor oval. My guess is that by adding the lettering, the punch wore more quickly, because of the irregular form of the whole; pressure on the punch became even more unevenly distributed, causing die cracks.

Your latest illustration makes clear that there is another counterstamp, upside down along the eagle's hind parts. It is a banner with BERT. So there. One more mystery.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline brandm24

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #35 on: May 12, 2020, 04:06:07 PM »
The size of the punch definitely was one reason for it failing. That, and the fact that die steel available at the time was soft and of inferior quality. The softness is highlighted by the finished look of the strike. One diagnostic to look for when authenticating  supposedly older counterstamps is that very look. The edges of the strike should appear rounded and indistinct as should the valleys of the letters and other devices. Modern punches imprint a sharp, crisp image while old ones don't.

 A large punch like that always presents unique challenges because it suffers more under repeated hammer blows. The small bar stamps by nature are more resilient and fare better under pressure.

The "BERT" isn't a second counterstamp, but part of the coin's original devices. It's what's left of the word "Liberty" on the portrait's headband.

Bruce
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #36 on: May 12, 2020, 04:27:04 PM »
the fact that die steel available at the time was soft and of inferior quality.

That is a bit of an iffy proposition. I have a source proving that hardening dies was a known technology in Birmingham around 1830. At that time, Birmingham was at the edge of metallurgical and minting technology, but any workman who'd seen tempering could repeat the process and I am sure there was migration from Birmingham to the Americas. Keep in mind that while the host is dated 1818, it is quite worn. Still, you could argue that the technology hadn't come to Philadelphia yet.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline brandm24

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #37 on: May 12, 2020, 07:49:51 PM »
The technology here was probably significantly behind that known in the UK at the time. I don't know who made Apple's punches. He may not have had the skill to do such as he was into copper and tinware only. No harder metal experience that I know of.

The style of his counterstamps are quite old and couldn't have been applied after 1839 when he left Philadelphia. More likely they date to the 1820's, at least the eagle stamp (the bar stamps may be later) I call that style of eagle the "skinny, frightened' variety.  ;D They generally appear on early American issues.

Bruce
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Offline brandm24

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #38 on: May 17, 2020, 12:23:43 AM »
Throughout the early years of  the  American silver trade some smiths applied hallmarks to their products along with their names or initials to identify their wares. The hallmarks are actually known as pseudo-hallmarks as they're meant only to imply quality in craftsmanship. British craftsmen were the masters of the trade at the time and were revered the world over for their high standards of workmanship and quality. Pseudo-hallmarks were an attempt by American silversmiths to claim the same standards, whether deserved or not.

While the US didn't regulate silversmiths, tool makers, cutlers or others in this way, the British had a system of regulation in place dating back to medieval times. You could call it a form of "consumer protection" that guaranteed standards of quality and craftsmanship.

 The first illustration highlights hallmarks used by London Gold and silversmith Paul Storr (1792-1838). The first mark identifies the maker (Storr in this case). The second (a lion passant) is a mark of purity. The third is the symbol of the assay office that regulated this particular craftsman. The example of the crowned leopard is that of the London office. The letter "O" tells the year of manufacture (1809) and the final hallmark shows a bust of King George III and is what's known as a  duty mark (taxes, you know).

In any case, American silversmiths who used pseudo-hallmarks were unregulated. They could use what they wanted. I couldn't trace the marks on his coin to any particular craftsman, but some are similar to those used by Dickson & Co. of Philadelphia. The portrait is likely George Washington and the American eagle replaces the British lion, of course.

The attached advertisement is one of silversmith retailer Bailey & Co. and references both British and American wares.

Bruce
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #39 on: May 17, 2020, 10:13:42 AM »
It may of course have been different in Britain and the US, but in France and the Netherlands, hallmarks were not guarantees of the work, but check marks for the quality of the metal, signs of distrust. The smiths' honesty was not taken for granted, so the government's assay office marks guaranteed the silver of gold content of the object. Typically, one of the (usually three) marks would indicate or symbolise metal content.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline brandm24

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #40 on: May 17, 2020, 11:39:34 AM »
Yes, my statement " guaranteed standards of quality and workmanship" isn't exactly correct. It confirmed the purity of the metal, not the quality of workmanship. On the other hand, with the King hanging around and a crowned leopard glaring at you, it would certainly spur the silversmith on to do his best work. ;D

Bruce
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